Selections from La Ciudad Actual

In 2014 and 2015 I spent nearly a year in Mexico City as a Fulbright National Geographic Fellow, exploring the city’s feathered edges. While the anchor of Mexico’s capital, the Distrito Federal (or Federal District) has around nine million residents, the larger metropolitan zone of the Valley of Mexico is home to more than twenty one million people. The sixty municipalities surrounding the DF form … Continue reading Selections from La Ciudad Actual

Rap and the American City

At its genesis, Hip-Hop was a perverse art form breaking away from cultural norms and mainstream sounds. It’s vibrancy attracted people, it encompassed rapping, DJing, breakdancing and graffiti. The Godfather of Hip-Hop, Afrika Bambaataa, started this community through block parties in the Bronx as a way to unite young people through the medium of music. Furthermore, Lisa Alexander described hip-hop as a way for the … Continue reading Rap and the American City

Free Speech, Signs, and the City

The passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has been dissected for its potential impact on litigious issues from campaign finance to abortion.  Yet one surely settled issue is the court’s June 2015 ruling on the limits of control a government may use to regulate signs.  In a 9-0 decision, the Supreme Court found that the small town of Gilbert, Arizona exceeded its authority when … Continue reading Free Speech, Signs, and the City

When Nature Calls: The Right to the Restroom

In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly declared sanitation a basic human right, but even urban centers like New York City lack adequate public restrooms to serve the millions of residents and tourists. New York restaurants that contain 19 or fewer seats are not legally required to contain restrooms, but police can still charge citizens with a misdemeanor offense for urinating in public when they … Continue reading When Nature Calls: The Right to the Restroom

On Farm Labor in the United States (2/2)

Part 2: How Consumers Can Support Better Conditions for Farm Workers Part one of this post looked at the birth of the farm worker movement in the United States and the ways in which farm workers are excluded from important labor laws. There are very real consequences of excluding farm workers from the basic protections offered by the National Labor Relations Act and the Fair Labor Standards … Continue reading On Farm Labor in the United States (2/2)